Fear of Change: What Keeps Companies from Embracing DevOps?

Of all the IT industry trends of the past few years, DevOps has stood out as one that can make a significant impact to an organization.  The results have been documented, as shown by the recent case study at Target.  But a recent survey by IDC shows that while most Fortune 1000 companies are considering or have considered DevOps, they cite “cultural inhibitors” as the biggest risk.  While I might be simplifying things, I believe that can be summed up in one word: Fear.

Fear can come in many forms, but in this case, I think it falls mainly into three areas: Fear of Change, Fear of the Unknown, and Fear of Failure.

Let’s start with Fear of Change:  Embracing change is never easy.  It’s human nature to stay with what we know and what we are comfortable with.  The old adage “If it ain’t broke…” still carries a lot of weight with some organizations.  The mindset of “but that’s how we’ve always done things” can seriously derail the innovation needed to make a DevOps Implementation successful, but protects an organization from any disruptions in their current production environment

Fear of the Unknown: Even when we can see that there are some significant benefits to adapting our behavior, the cost of losing what is “safe” and what we “know” seems too high.  DevOps is in essence taking the traditional way organizations develop and deliver software and turning it on its head.  The mentality of “Developers vs Operations” is tossed aside in favor of communication and collaboration.

Fear of Failure: In my opinion, this is the biggest “cultural inhibitor” that cause companies to hesitate when it comes to DevOps.  No one wants to be responsible for IT downtime in an organization.  Unfortunately, this can result in finger-pointing between developers and operations.  However, the acceptance of failure is an essential piece of DevOps.  As hard as we might try, code is not perfect; it can be tested every possible way yet bugs or glitches can still turn up in production.  DevOps accepts this and combats it with faster development cycles involving fewer changes; this makes it easier to address and correct issues as they occur.

In today’s business climate, Fear can be fatal – time to market is critical and consumer’s demand for speed and accuracy is at an all-time high.  The idea of making a significant adjustment to the development culture of a company can seem daunting.  And yes, implementing DevOps in the enterprise does carry a number of challenges.  However, with the right partner to guide an organization through the process, DevOps can provide not only a quantifiable result for an IT organization, such as realizing 60 times fewer failures and recovering 168 times faster (Puppet 2015 State of DevOps Report), it can also demonstrate a company’s commitment to continually innovate and better itself.  When you look at the top 10 list of companies who have successfully implemented DevOps into their culture – Amazon, Netflix and Target, to name a few – you’ll know that you’re in good company.

If DevOps is on your agenda for 2016, or you’ve already started the process but need some help in determining how to maximize the impact on your organization, download our quiz to learn how your organization measures up.